An old weapon for brave players

mida
mida
Jun 20, 2007, 12:00 AM |
18 | Opening Theory

The Cochrane Gambit (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nxe5 d6 4 Nxf7) is, perhaps, not well known by its name, but is a playable early assault on the Black King's position, which leads to dynamic positions with chances for both sides.
John Cochrane was born into a well-to-do Scottish family on February 4, 1798. He had the unique distinction of having been a second lieutenant on the British ship, the HMS Bellerophon, which transported Napoleon to Helena, his island of exile, in 1815. Cochrane must have shown an early talent for chess because in 1821, at age 23, he was playing chess with Deschapelles and La Bourdonnais. In 1824, when the famous correspondence match London-Edinburgh began, he left for India, where he ended up spending a large portion of his life. He returned to England, on leave, for a few years, seemingly from 1841 to 1843. He became a good friend of Howard Staunton, who was an up-and-coming player. While in India, Cochrane didn't forsake chess. He belonged to (possibly founded) the Calcutta Chess Club and regularly sent the annotated scores from games he played there. One particularly strong opponent was Moheschunder Bannerjee (Mahesh Chandra Banerji of Bengal), against whom he played the first recorded game of the Cochrane gambit. More than a hundred years later, in 1973, David Bronstein brought the line into modern practice, and the variation has received detailed analysis since, particularly by Latvian and Russian masters.
This bizarre-looking gambit is thought to be highly unsound and is almost never seen at high-level chess tournaments. The reputed unsoundness of the variation made it all the more surprising when Veselin Topalov played it against no less than Vladimir Kramnik in the 1999 Linares supertournament. For the Bulgarian GM to play the Cochrane Gambit was a huge risk, and what was even more surprising was that he drew the game...

 
 
 
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